Groundhandling services (such as passenger check-in, baggage handling, towing, de-icing and fueling) are essential for airport operations. The Groundhandling Directive (96/67/EC) has opened the market for independent third parties to provide these services at larger European airports. The opening of the market has resulted in competition between groundhandling companies and lower costs for airlines. But Europe’s congested airports increasingly face operational and safety problems from groundhandling activities that are not sufficiently integrated in the airport operations. Airport operators need to be empowered to coordinate aeronautical activities within their airports. The benefits of competition must therefore be balanced with adequate quality, safety and social standards.